Guenther Steiner says there was no pressure on Robert Shwartzman during the Abu Dhabi test with Haas, as he adds on the reserve situation.
Haas confirmed back in November that Ferrari junior Shwartzman would be in the VF-21 in the post-season Young Driver test in Abu Dhabi, where the likes of Oscar Piastri, Liam Lawson, Juri Vips and Patricio O’Ward also competed.
Shwartzman spent a full day in the car, and was the only driver in a 2021-spec car on 13-inch tyres on that particular day, having driven the Ferrari car the day before. The 2019 F3 champion secured two race wins in 2021, concluding the Formula 2 season in third place in the Drivers’ standings and rounding out a successful season for the Russian.
It was only a year earlier that Haas announced the arrival of their all-new rookie line-up, consisting of fellow F2 graduates Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. The German is also a teammate of Shwartzman’s in the Ferrari Driver Academy.
Haas is therefore akin to cultivating rookie talent and dropping them very much in the deep end in a F1 car. However, prior to 2021 the team had never assigned a rookie to a full-time seat in its short history in the sport – fielding only Romain Grosjean, Esteban Gutierrez and Kevin Magnussen as full-time drivers.
Haas team principal Steiner reassures that Shwartzman didn’t have any weight on his shoulders during the test, instead he was there to enjoy the experience. “It was just a test because it was a young driver test,” he said. “We always discussed that young drivers haven’t got the opportunity to test so with Ferrari, we just give him a chance.
“There was no really big expectation. I think my expectation was that he does a day of running, that we don’t have any mechanical issues, that he doesn’t go off or anything and… I think [it was more for] this guy to enjoy it,” summed up Steiner.
For 2022, F1 is introducing a mandatory young driver rule for FP1 sessions, meaning teams must find young drivers (defined as those who have had fewer than two Formula 1 starts) to take part in a set number of practice sessions.
The chances that Shwartzman could run for Haas seem logical and have tangible weight behind them but Steiner didn’t say much on it. His potential Ferrari commitments could stop this from becoming reality, but exact details of this are yet to become clear.
When asked by FormulaRapida.net whether Haas were looking for junior drivers to run in FP1 sessions in 2022, Steiner kept tight-lipped on the subject. He also noted that there won’t be any other reserve driver alongside Pietro Fittipaldi as of now.
There were some discussion about an experienced reserve to help the rookies at Haas, but it doesn’t likely to happen for the moment. As per the Ferrari release, their reserve Antonio Giovinazzi – for 12 races – will be available for Haas and Alfa Romeo too.
“At the moment we have no plans to have another reserve driver, I don’t know yet what Pietro is going to race in 2022, if he’s racing at all, so I don’t know that,” said Steiner. “Then we have to wait to see if it is somebody [else is needed] for the FP1s, the mandatory one, we want this path underlined to see what we’re doing.”
The story was written by Danny Herbert
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